Monday, March 27, 2017

Can You Pronounce Gualeguaychu?

Hey everyone, it has been a fantastic week. Elder Opazo came on wednesday, and I am excited for what lies ahead this change! It has been a fun few days with him.

Anyways my last day with Elder Raimundo was on Tuesday. Our lunch was cancelled, and so we decided to go out to eat. As we were ordering, some guy behind us asked in english ´Where are you guys from?´  So I got talking to him in english, and let me just say... It was soooo weird to contact in english and talk about church stuff and our beliefs. I can always talk to other gringos in our zone normally and it isn't weird but idk why, maybe I am just more adapted to teaching in spanish. Anyways, his name was [...] and he said he learned english because he lived in New Jersey and Florida for seven years. He was actually a super interesting guy to talk to and said he has talked with the missionaries before. He lives in Gualeguaychu, but gave us his number for the other missionaries there to pass by. Super cool!

I said bye to Elder Raimundo on Tuesday and he left for Artigas, which is the highest baptizing zone in the mission by far, so i think he is going to have fun :) I stayed here in Colon with Elder Castro for a day, and on Wednesday, Elder Opazo came. Like I said last week, he is from Chile, and speaks spanish, portuguese, and is pretty good at english too. I am his first gringo companion, so I have been helping him. He isn't quite fluent but doesn't really have much of an accent because he was born in the states, and lived there in Nevada until he was 5 years old and moved to Chile. He has a little over 10 months in the mission and it is pretty crazy because this is his third area and- his 3rd country he has served! This mission is the only one in the world that has a part of three countries and he has served in each one, which is really rare. He started his mission in Brazil, then went to Montevideo, and now here. Pretty cool. 

That made me laugh so much when you said you heard Chileans don't like people from Argentina, because they always get whooped (in soccer). You know why? Because the first day that Elder Opazo was here, Argentina played Chile and won. Elder Opazo was like NOOOOOOOO NOT AGAIN!!!!! Hahahahahaha. But yeah it has been such a great few days and this will be an awesome change. 

The two new sisters missionaries here in Colon are really cool too. Hermana Rios from Paraguay, and hermana Ortiz, who opposite of Elder Opazo was born and lived in Mexico until she was 8 and then moved to the states. The first day that the three of them all came was kind of crazy, because the sisters are opening an area in the other half of Colon, and so didnt know anything. And they didnt even have a phone, so it wasn't really like they could call us if they needed to know how to get somewhere or needed to know something. So we just gave them ours for a couple days if they needed to call a member or something, but now its all good, they got one.

It was such an awesome weekend. On Saturday, Elder Opazo and I had a few really great lessons. One contact that we went to wasn't there, so we started contacting down the street and the second house we clapped (yeah, we clap houses here in South America instead of knocking haha) turned out to be a really nice and acceptive couple named [...] and [...]. We shared with them the Plan of Salvation because they expressed to us how important the family is to them. They have five kids, all younger, but I am really excited because we found a family! They enjoyed the message, and said we can come back this Friday!

Sunday was great as well. We had about 15-20 more people come than normal in our branch and we up to over 60! Quite a few less actives were able to make it as well as Dora (we call her Dora la exploradora), the older lady who had a baptismal date a few times before, but couldn't really make it to church because she has had problems walking for the last few months. Anyways, super awesome!!

Today for P-Day, we went to Concepcion for our zone conference and after had a zone activity, which was super fun. Elder Castro and Elder Bowler made tons of pizza for everyone which was super good, and we played lots of sports and games. I love this zone, it is a really awesome one :)

All things are good here. I am so excited for this change with Elder Opazo and there are good things to come here in Colon!

Elder Layton

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Radiant Missionaries

Hey everyone!

Well we received our changes today and I get to stay here in Argentina!! I am really excited, as I love it here and the people are great. My new companion will be Elder Opazo from Chili, and he supposedly has a year on the mission. I have heard that he is really funny and also that he speaks english, spanish, and portuguese. Pretty cool! 

Elder Raimundo is going to be a district leader in a zone called Artigas. I´ll miss him. He has taught me a lot about being a missionary and also about the language. To be honest, I was still pretty terrible at spanish when I left Las Acacias at 5 months (it´s a little tough when you live with 4 gringos haha) but I feel a lot more comfortable now that I have had a latino companion for two changes. Elder Raimundo has taught me a lot but I am also excited because I guess Elder Opazo speaks english pretty well and should be able to help me with more advanced spanish. 

The other thing is that sister missionaries are going to be opening up an area in the other half of Colon and San Jose. So that will be a huge help, as our area was pretty big! Also, we won't have to travel to Concepcion each week for district meetings, because we have a district of 4 here in Colon. Oh yeah, and something else cool is that Elder Good is going to be the new financier for the next change!

This week has been super great after Tuesday and Wednesday which poured non stop. I did have a funny experience though on Wednesday. Since it was rainy, we had been walking in super muddy streets. When we got to a part of our area that had normal road, I wanted to wash off my boots since they were so muddy and we had a contact nearby we were going to visit. I saw a puddle on the side of the road so I stuck my foot in to clean it off. Although it appeared very shallow, it was not... Lets just say my whole leg fell in, and I am just glad I was able to prevent my whole body from falling it because it kind of caught me off balance haha. 

Anyways, we have been having a lot of progress here, apart from a couple of down days. [...] accepted a baptismal date for April 29th, and I really think we will be able to make that happen, because she is a total capa (stud). It is pretty funny because she just turned 13 this week, and is about twice the size of Elder Raimundo. I always give Elder Raimundo a hard time :) Her parents aren't too interested, but they are really supportive and that she wants to listen to us. Her aunt [...] is still out of town, so we haven't been able to find her for a while.

We also followed up with [...], our new investigator from last week. We didn't have a whole lot of time, but taught part of the Plan of Salvation and it was awesome! She said she has been reading a lot of the Book of Mormon too. We are going to have to pass here over to the sister missionaries that are coming because she is in their area, but I am excited to see the progress she makes anyways!

A kind of cool experience that happened this week was with a contact we made named [...]. He was sitting on a street corner with some of his friends. As were were contacting them, he asked us if we had some special light because we were apparently ´iluminados´ or glowing. He said he felt that something was different about us and then gave us his direction to come by one day! So we are going to pass by this week, and I am pretty excited because he seemed really interested. It feels so good when people desire to learn more about the gospel. We have been finding a lot of new investigators this week and I am really excited for this next change with Elder Opazo! 

Sorry that makes kind of a long letter for this week, but there are good things to come here in Colon!! Love you guys all and miss you!

Elder Layton

Monday, March 13, 2017

Feeling the Savior's Love

Elders Layton & Layton (the OTHER Elder Layton is an Asst to the President)
Hey everyone!
It is good to hear Bend is warming up. Here it is finally getting tolerable, and it has actually been a little chilly a couple nights. Elder Raimundo was here during last winter and said Argentina out of all the zones gets the coldest as well. Haha we will see.
The mission is going by way too fast now. I know I said that last week, but this week was a blink as well. We have actually kept pretty busy. 
Elder Raimundo did actually get pretty sick to start the week so we had to spend half of Tuesday in the house. He was convinced it was the homemade empanadas that a family gave us that day for lunch, although luckily it didnt affect me in the slightest haha. They were actually some bomb empanadas. 
We had a bit of time in the house that day, so I started making 3 by 5 flashcards of all the seminary scripture masteries, because I want to re-learn them all. I will have to admit, in seminary I usually read the scripture a few times and crammed it in my brain, quoted it to check it off the list and then forgot it. And so advice to all the youth in Mt Bachelor- take scripture masteries more seriously, they will come to help a lot on the mission :).
We went way out in the middle of nowhere on Friday to visit a less active member, the husband of an active lady. And as we were walking, we looked over and could see all of Colon, as we were on higher ground. It was really beautiful and is really green kind of like Oregon. Anyways, we went over to this older couple's house and WOW- Their house was absolutely enormous. It was basically a mansion and even had tons of statues and things like that. Haha, I had no idea. Elder Raimundo told me it was huge because he had gone once before, but only when I got there, I really saw what he was talking about.
This week has been starting to calm down a little bit with the weather and it hasn't been so unbearably hot, so that has been really nice! We have done a lot of contacting. Just yesterday, we got an awesome new investigator named [...]! We had contacted her earlier this week, and as we were leaving, she said `Good, I need to change from my religion anyways` hahaha. She was kind of joking, but when we came back she was really awesome. We taught her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and she took it really well. She said she would read the Book of Mormon and even if she felt it was true she would be baptized by someone with the authority to do so! So I am really excited to follow up with her!
Honestly, I recognize that I need the divine help of the Savior so very much because I have many weaknesses. According to Helaman 4:13, I know if I am prideful and glory in my own strength, I will be left in my own strength. I know this is the true Gospel and on my mission I can't literally say I hunger for more wisdom and knowledge that comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is about it for now. Colon is super awesome and I really love being here on my mission. I feel blessed the Lord has entrusted me with the opportunity to spread his gospel. This truly is a `great and marvelous work` and I am so very grateful for the love from the Savior I feel as I serve and learn more about Him. We are ever blessed to have the Gospel. I treasure it every day. Love you guys! I hope you all have a great week. And to my family- I hope you have fun in Mexico, but I`m sorry it's not as cool as Argentina :)
Elder Layton

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Pastor and Priesthood Blessings

Wow, this week has FLOWN by. Seriously the shortest week of my mission. We had a great experience on Tuesday- we were contacting and ended up talking with a pastor from another church. At first we had no idea, and he invited us in, started teaching the restoration, when all of the sudden he blew up and started going off about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. So we figured out he was a pastor of this church and he had all these things to say about the Book of Mormon that were completely untrue. So we corrected him on a lot of our beliefs, and started showing him a few biblical scriptures talking about Christ giving authority to his disciples and how we must be called of God to teach and baptize and all. It was funny because he got stumped pretty good a few times, and now he wants a Book of Mormon. I love the last verse in John to help answer the doubt that there are no more scriptures than just the Bible. 
Anyways, we also found [...] this week, and talked about the Plan of Salvation. We came back another day and gave her a program to quit smoking. We read the first step with her, which is to destroy all cigarettes you have or give them to the missionaries. She was a little hesitant at first, but then gave us all her cigarettes to dispose of! She was a little worried we were going to sell them, but we promised her they were going in the trash haha.
We found a couple new investigators this week named [...] and [...]. We Taught them the restoration and it was really awesome! They even accepted an invitation to be baptized on April 15th! We were all out of Book of Mormon`s so went back after the zone conference on friday when we got more. When we got there, [...] was pretty emotional, based on something serious that had just happened in her family. We told her if she desired we could give her a Priesthood blessing because she was have a real hard time emotionally. She as very grateful and accepted. After the blessings we gave to her and her daughter, [...] said she felt a lot more peaceful and comforted. We were able to give each of them a Book of Mormon and talk a little about why is is so important for us. We are going to try and bring them to a Noche de Hogar tonight with the Peralta family.
We had a scary experience happen in front of us a few days ago. A car crashed into a girl on a motorcycle and we were on the sidewalk about 10 feet away :0. The girl was ok but her leg was really bloody and she surely broke something. But super scary, it was right in front of us. Luckily a ton of help was immediately there.
I met the assistant, the other Elder Layton at our zone conference on Friday. He is really cool. It turns out he isn't a direct descendant of Christopher Layton, but he thinks his ancestor was Christopher Layton`s nephew or something. Pretty cool though!
We also had an amazing experience on Saturday. Elder Raimundo and I decided to drop off a package that morning a missionary had sent to the Godoy family. When we got there, Marisel Godoy was very sick. Her sister, Vanessa, and her family were all out of town and her husband was at work. Marisel`s mom who recently moved in with them had been praying in the very moment that we came by that a Priesthood holder could come by to give Marisel a health blessing. She was in a lot of pain, and so we gave her a blessing. 
The next day in church Hermana Mongelot (Marisel`s mom) bore her testimony on the power of prayer, and how grateful she was for the Priesthood. It was really powerful. I feel so lucky and blessed to be a missionary and I know that the Lord knows each one. 
Everything is done in his wisdom, and I sometimes am amazed how God can work so many miracles through the hands of his children, despite our many imperfections. I love this Gospel with all of my heart. I know it is true. I am so grateful for the scriptures we have which give us strength, guidance, and comfort. The mission is amazing. God loves and guides us. I love you guys, and I hope you have a wonderful week!!

Elder Layton